AAPI attacks in Atlanta and NYC show hate on the road out of COVID is still prevalent
From 2019 to 2020, hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans increased by nearly 150%, according to a study from California State University, San Bernardino.
An analysis released by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino revealed that from 2019 to 2020, overall hate crimes decreased by 7%, but those targeting Asian people rose by nearly 150%.
These hate crimes stemmed from anti-Asian racism already embedded into the minds and hearts of thousands of Americans, and exacerbated by the xenophobic and anti-Chinese rhetoric from former President Donald Trump and other politicians.
Asian-Americans, and by association, Pacific Islanders, became a racial scapegoat for the COVID-19 pandemic, and the repercussions of this hatred have been deadly. From the start of the pandemic until now, AAPIs have been under attack, through assault, robberies, ethnic intimidation and online and in-person harassment.
On the morning of July 11, 28-year-old Joshua Dowd, a gay Asian-American man from Atlanta, Georgia was found with a serious head injury, lying on train tracks in the Lindbergh area of the Buckhead neighborhood.
Police were alerted to the 2100 block of Piedmont Road where a bystander noticed Dowd alone and barely breathing, with blood trailing from his head.
Please join me and make a donation to support Joshua Dowd as he fights for his life after being brutally attacked. He remains in a coma after suffering a serious head injury.
Praying for Josh Dowd and his loved ones. #FightForJosh #gapolhttps://t.co/XU3pP3KkWr
— Sam Park (@SamforGeorgia) July 19, 2021
He was then transported to Grady Hospital for treatment, according to Colin Kelly, Dowd’s partner of over three years. Dowd reportedly went out for the night with friends to Midtown Atlanta, but was later separated from the group.
Dowd was captured entering and leaving The Heretic in Buckhead via surveillance video. Kelly told CBS46 that he doesn’t know how his partner ended up at the scene where he was found.
“We don’t have a lot of information to go on,” Kelly said.
Local authorities have labeled the case as “miscellaneous/noncrime,” but it remains under investigation. As of this writing, no information about a suspect or motive has been released.
Kelly spoke to WSBTV, claiming a robbery can be ruled out, as Dowd still had his phone and debit card on his person.
Loved ones and family members believe that Dowd’s race and sexual orientation may be related to the attack, as both identities place him at a greater risk for hate crimes.
“There were times based on where he was going to go, he would change his appearance so he wouldn’t be at risk of getting attacked,” Kelly said.
“I’m a little nervous from some of the videos that perhaps he was led into situations.”
As Joshua Dowd continues to fight for his life, video gives a glimpse into who he was w/ hours before he was found bloody & unconscious on train tracks in Buckhead. The latest on @cbs46 at 11 pic.twitter.com/HJOSB9OHCS
— Zac Summers (@ZacOnTV) July 20, 2021
Dowd sustained a blunt force injury to his head, and is now in a coma after receiving surgery. Kelly, describing the attack, said the impact was hard enough to crack his skull.
“It required a portion of his skull to be cut out to allow the brain to swell,” he said.
Dowd is expected to wake up from the coma, but physicians have said that his road to recovery may be a long journey, according to FOX5.
“Miracles happen, and if anyone deserves a miracle, it’s Josh,” Kelly said. “He’s the most kind, caring, and compassion-giving person I think I’ve ever met.”
Dowd’s family and friends set up a GoFundMe page on Thursday, July 15 to cover medical expenses, and so far, it has accumulated over $99,000 in donations.
Meanwhile, in New York City, the family of 58-year-old Than Htwe is experiencing a similarly heart-wrenching situation with their loved one.
After being knocked down the stairs during an attempted robbery at a Manhattan subway station, Htwe is currently fighting for her life in a coma.
Htwe and her 22-year-old son, Kyaw Zaw Hein, were leaving the Canal Street Station around 10:45 a.m on Saturday, July 17 when an unidentified man attacked them from behind, according to New York Daily News.
Official GoFundMe page set up for 58YO Htwe Than.
She still remains in critical condition after the suspect yanked her and her son down a flight of subway stairs after he attempted to pull the son’s bag forcing them both to fall. @NYPDAsianHCTF https://t.co/O0SIvCHi1N
— Sarah Y. Kim (@Syissle) July 20, 2021
Police say that the assailant made a complaint about Hein’s backpack before lunging forward and grabbing it. Hein lost his balance and grabbed onto his mother, who then fell down the stairs with him.
Htwe and Hein were rushed to Bellevue Hospital for treatment. Htwe fell backwards, suffering a severe brain injury that required surgery. Hein only suffered minor injuries.
Hein, in an interview with NextShark, described his mom as a “very religious” and “very kind person,” even in instances where people may treat her badly.
'80% chance' she won't make it: Distraught Brooklyn family keeps vigil after mom pulled down Canal St. subway stairs by wanted suspect
Son of Than Htwe, 58, tells of their ordeal
Her husband keeps appearances, breaks down at home. “Really heartbroken"https://t.co/KuD3cSp3s4
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) July 19, 2021
In a statement asking for people to alert the police of any information, Hein said, “I love my mom very much & miss her so much, hopefully she can give me a hug soon … My family is in shock and hope the police will catch whoever is responsible for the incident and get justice that my mom deserved.”
This rise in anti-Asian hate has been steady since the beginning of the pandemic and there seems to be no end in sight.
Heavily impacted communities, local and state governments as well as the Biden administration have responded in different ways, but it appears that the battle against anti-Asian racism will require even more action.